I remember once; I had tears in my eyes because a friend picked a book during library time at school that I’d seen first and was waiting my turn to get it.
Though not her fault, feeling guilty, she promptly handed it to me! I was very fond of reading fiction novels as a child; later, I found my book world expand horizons into non-fiction, history, business, classics, and so on.
Even now, when I happen to lay my hands on a book I wanted for a long time, the thrill of it makes me a kid again.
I wished that my daughter would have the same love for reading. I thought she’d be deprived of something joyful if she gets lost in this maze of digital screens around her.
She’ll turn 11 soon and is an avid reader, something I am happy and take pride in as it took some effort from my end.
How did I turn my kid towards reading? Sharing few tips from my journey.
a. Start early
I began reading aloud to her since she was two. At that age, kids are accepting and enthusiastic about doing an activity together. By the time she was in primary and books became easily accessible, I encouraged her to read independently. We still read together, but she reads a lot on her own.
b. Nudge, don’t force
I was always conscious that I shouldn’t pressurize her. Reading should be enjoyable, not a task to be completed. I also didn’t tell her what she should read; starting with comic books and easy reads, children develop on genres as they move along.
c. Create a reading environment at home
Being an ardent reader myself; I am surrounded by books. I got made a bookshelf, with separate areas for our books – we call it our it’s our reading zone. That way, we discuss books. Whenever we both are free, we pick any random book from the shelf and begin reading.
d. Develop a support network
If it was only me nudging her, progress would have been limited. Build a network of readers who support your child to nurture the habit. I encouraged my girl to exchange, share, read books with friends, neighbours. Her peer group helped sustain the interest.
e. Books make the perfect gifts
Not only did I buy her gifts in the form of books, but I also informed my parents and extended family to gift books instead of toys/clothes for her birthdays. Initially, it bothered her, now she keeps in mind and asks for books she wants in her collection!
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f. The school atmosphere is crucial
I am lucky her school is very pro-reading. Reading news columns, contests, author meets are held to make reading engaging for kids. When my daughter won a reading competition, the Principal called home to wish and spoke for 10 minutes; even got a book delivered to home as a surprise gift. This was motivating for my daughter to continue her reading habit.
g. Online reading
I am still an advocate of physical books, yet the variety and pricing advantage you get on e-books is boundless. The idea is to read & across multiple genres, so I was open for my daughter to explore reading online (the one time I don’t mind her using a screen!)
I found an online library with books by Indian authors and wide-ranging genres. In my time, only foreign-authored books were available; the former provides exposure to our culture, values, and style of writing.
Over a period of time, my nudging has transformed into mere observation; now, my daughter has found her own momentum and reads every day, something even I cannot accomplish!
This has improved her spellings, built her vocabulary, and enhanced her language skills, in general. It even gave her the confidence to speak publicly. If she continues the habit, it may open up avenues and opportunities; even I haven’t imagined.
Currently, it’s satisfying that we can both be under the spell of this magical world that is – books!